This is not a site of strategic importance and Rail Central are simply promoting it as such because they own it. Furthermore, it is clearly a commercial, rather than a strategic decision to place a second SRFI within 15 miles of an existing one; one that will not be at capacity until 2033. Surely for it to be strategic it should be linked by a strategy that has been devised nationally and not driven by which developer happens to own a piece of land. This currently does not appear to be the case.
Rail Central is contrary to the adopted West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy (WNJCS) and in conflict with the commercial, transport and housing objectives of the whole region. A further development on this scale will result in a complete imbalance of planning objectives.
Rail Central have overstated the strategic location and interconnectivity of this particular site:
i) The local road network is already far too congested to accommodate this scheme and cannot be improved sufficiently to mitigate the impact. The main access road is already overstressed and a secondary route through a small village is untenable (The scheme relies on utilising the existing road between Milton Malsor and Blisworth as its only other alternative road: this is completely unacceptable for a scheme of this size (7.5m sq ft.), which would normally require a second connection to a major trunk road)
ii) The Northampton loop line unlikely to have the capacity for additional freight when DIRFT 3 is running at capacity. Rail Central’s claim that both the Northampton loop and the WCML lines will be available are unfounded as WCML is highly unlikely to accommodate slower freight trains throughout the day.
Northampton Highways Authority and the Northampton Rail Users Group have expressed concern that if either Application were to be approved this could result in a reduction in passenger rail services from Northampton.
Road congestion will worsen rather than improve with the terminal being a mostly road based logistics park (over half the site cannot be served by rail due to its bisection by the Northampton to Towcester Road). Rail Central would result in in excess of 20,000 additional vehicle movements a day on the A43 and surrounding roads. This would be in addition to the 16,500 extra daily vehicle movements that would result from Northampton Gateway. Both would be operating 24 hours a day. To put this into context, over 16,000 vehicles currently use the A508 every day.
This would inevitably create more local air pollution, especially in the two Air Quality Management Areas (between J15 and J16 and on the A45 near Wootton).
The impact of this scheme on the local villages and their communities will be both huge and permanent and no amount of mitigation can change this. The activities of rail freight interchanges produce air, light and noise pollution, the effects of which CANNOT be adequately mitigated especially with two villages in such close proximity
The economic landscape is such that there is currently no incentive for commercial organisations to switch from road to rail. Given the relatively short distances involved and without Government subsidy the required modal shift will not occur (There is no requirement for SRFIs, once constructed, to actually accept any freight by rail: they merely have to have the capacity to do so. This is the loophole currently being exploited by Developers)
As a consequence of the above the carbon objectives of this proposal will never be met (at least within any realistic timescale). Rail Central’s claim of “Sustainability” has been challenged
Rail Central is only the start. Granting of permission for this development will inevitably lead to further applications for housing and associated amenities leading to further unwanted development and loss of precious countryside and rural communities.
Over 1150 acres of agricultural land would be covered in concrete by these two developments. The M1 has been a natural barrier to development spilling over into the rural areas of South Northamptonshire. Rail Central would overwhelm Milton Malsor. The demand for unplanned housing would rise resulting in development spreading to other areas, especially along the A508.
People will lose their houses, homes and community.
This is life changing and we only have one opportunity to stop it. Please do not waste it.